Shareable Meals for the Whole Family!

Shredded Chicken Tacos:
With all the challenges of becoming a new mom – lack of sleep, feeding challenges, changes to your physical shape and your body’s functionality – getting a nutritious meal onto the table may not be too high on your priority list. While it’s certainly possible to find nutritious takeout, cooking has so many benefits, and it can be a lot easier than you think!  Don’t let Pinterest and TV cooking shows fool you. Not every meal has to be Insta-worthy or use exotic, expensive ingredients. You can nourish your family quite well with quick, simple, inexpensive meals. New mom, and Registered Dietitian, Diana Rice, shares some tasty meals that come together quickly, economically, and adapt well for babies, toddlers, and adults!

Why Cook?

Before we get into the recipes, just a few reasons to ditch the phone and don that apron every now and then!
  • It saves money: Diapers, clothes, a home with room to grow and, oh yeah, college tuition one day! Having kids is expensive and cooking regularly can help slash a significant chunk off your food budget.

  • It’s more nutritious: Research shows that people who often cook at home consume fewer calories and more nutritious diets than those who regularly rely on takeout.

  • You’re in control of the ingredients: Not only will you ultimately consume fewer food additives when cooking for yourself but once your baby starts solid food, you can be assured that you know exactly what you’re feeding him/her, which is especially important when you’re introducing new foods.

And now for some recipes!

Shredded Chicken Tacos: If you’ve cooked the chicken in advance, this meal comes together in just 10 minutes. While the chicken and tortillas heat up, you can quickly chop the vegetables. At the table, adults can prep their own tacos, while toddlers typically enjoy a “deconstructed” version. Shredded chicken is a great food for baby led weaning, or you can actually throw a little bit of each taco element into a food processor for a taco puree (try finding that in the baby food aisle!).
 Shredded Chicken Tacos:
Magic Pasta Bake: After mixing the ingredients together in an oven-safe pan (pasta and all!) you simply pop this dish in the oven, and 45 minutes later, dinner is ready! And since the pasta comes out on the tender side, it’s easy to mash with a fork for young babies or for toddlers to self-feed.
Sheet Pan Chicken and Vegetables: If you haven’t discovered sheet pan meals, now is the time! In essence, place all ingredients on a sheet pan, season and bake. Could it be any easier? This recipe is great because you can use any combination of vegetables you like or have on hand, including ones that mash easily for young babies like summer squash and sweet potatoes. Don’t worry about offering a baby spices such as garlic powder and oregano. It’s actually quite beneficial for them to be exposed to flavors like this at an early age!
 
5-Ingredient Salmon Burgers: The nutritional value to the ease-of-prep ratio of this meal is off the charts! You simply add five ingredients that are relatively easy to keep on hand (canned salmon, oats, onion, garlic and egg) to a food processor, form into patties and then lightly fry on each side. Babies and toddlers will enjoy the soft patties (try adding a yogurt-based dipping sauce for toddlers) while adults can dress up their burgers with avocado and hot sauce between two whole wheat buns. Save some avocado for the kids too, of course!
Shrimp and Pesto Pasta: This meal easily comes together while the pasta is cooking – just sauté the shrimp, tomatoes, and pesto together, then toss with the pasta once it’s cooked. There’s absolutely no shame in using prepared ingredients like jarred pesto sauce. Just give the label a quick scan before you buy it, and confirm that the ingredients are mostly items that you recognize and would cook with yourself given the time. Toddlers can practice their fork skills on the linguine or eat each item separately. This meal also works well with zucchini noodles, which are easy to find in your grocer’s produce section these days and mash up easily for feeding babies.
Diana K. Rice, RD, is The Baby Steps Dietitian. A new mom herself with a two-year-old and another on the way, she’s on a mission to help women fit good nutrition into the messy intersection of pregnancy, postpartum recovery and feeding tiny humans by taking small steps that work for their busy lifestyles. She is based outside of New York City in Jersey City, NJ. Visit dianakrice.com for easy recipes, infant and toddler feeding tips and postpartum recovery and body image stories. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest for even more healthy and nutritious tips.